War II: Last-minute deliverance from execution
and Rena Baldwin were two of nine Assemblies of God missionaries
and children who were interned in December 1941 by the Japanese
military on Luzon in the Philippine Islands. The U.S. Army rescued
seven of the missionaries and their children on February 23, 1945,
from a prison in Manila. This is an excerpt from Blanche Appleby’s
article that appeared in the June 16, 1945, Pentecostal Evangel telling of their remarkable rescue from the Los
Banos prison camp some 40 miles south of Manila. Full stories
of the rescues are in the spring and summer 1985 issues of A/G Heritage.
It was on Friday morning,
February 23, just before the roll call at 7 o’clock that
the American planes went over us. We had not heard that we were
to be executed that day, but we learned from authentic sources
afterwards that an order had come from Tokyo that we were all
to be killed. And the machine guns were already placed on the
hill above us. We afterwards heard that the orders were that we
were to be shot at 7 a.m., but at two minutes to 7:00 American
parachutists began descending into the enemy lines from the sky.
These paratroopers were dropped 25 miles within the enemy lines.
We heard firing and
suddenly the word went forth, “Look, there are American
soldiers.” A company of American amtracks — amphibian
tractors — had come into the camp, and the soldiers cried
to us all, “Get out of here. Take all you can in your two
hands, and get into the amtracks!”
I was the last one
to get into the amtracks, and the only place I could find was
a little space crouching beneath a machine gun. There was only
one road out of the camp and the Japanese were by this time all
alert and tried to intercept us, but the general had given orders
that the Americans were not to go out by that road but make a
way across the fields to a lake; so that the Japanese who had
their guns trained on that road were foiled. They began to fire
on our party and three persons in our amtrack were injured. One
of the gunners of the machine gun just above me let fly at the
Japanese and the hot shell cases were coming down my back and
burning me, but someone put a coat over me to protect me.
We were soon out in
the lake and it was a wonderful sight to see those amphibian tractors
making their way across. They dropped us on the other shore and
went back to rescue the rest in the camp. There were 2,121 in
that camp at that time, and those American boys rescued everyone,
so that no American, Dutch, or British lost their lives, not one.
The general in command had counted on only rescuing about 80 percent,
but they rescued 100 percent.
comment was, “Surely God helped us that day.” It was
one of the most marvelous rescues in history. Looking back on
those days [in the internment camp], I praise God that we always
had hope. Though at times we just lived on squash leaves and blossoms,
beans picked from acacia trees and tomato leaves, and more than
80 percent in the camp were sick from malnutrition, our confidence
was in Him who never fails to watch over His own.
It seems as if Psalm
107 was especially written for folks in an internment camp: “Hungry
and thirsty, their soul fainted in them. Then they cried unto
the Lord in their trouble, and He delivered them out of their
— Blanche Appleby